Saturday, April 01, 2006


A huge thank you to Steve for the GREAT TIPS!!

Some of my favourite tech tips:

* Save magnets, especially rare earth magnets (as seen in hard drives, once they're ripped open).

* Chain cleaner can be recycled many times before it starts losing its cleansing power. Take two plastic containers (I use icecream tubs), one is the "clean" tub and one is the "dirty" tub. Put a magnet in the bottom of both (see, they're turning out handy already!). Pour used chain cleaner into the dirty tub. Once the dirty tub is full, take a couple of containers like coffee tins or mayonnaise jars, use elastic bands to hold coffee filters on top, then strain the dirty chain cleaner through. Empty the containers into the clean tub, and you have chain cleaner ready to be used again. The magnets will pick up most of the dirt, fish them out every now and then and wipe them off.

* If your chain cleaning device doesn't have a magnet, affix a magnet to the bottom. It's amazing how much extra dirt will get pulled off.

* My chains get really dirty in winter (even though I clean them daily), so to make them last longer I get a spare chain and a sheet of KMC masterlinks (I don't like the SRAM ones - the KMC's are disposable, but at least they're easy to get off, even if it is with a chain tool). After I've cleaned the chain with the chain cleaner at the end of the week, I break the chain and put it in a coffee tin (yes, I drink quite a lot of coffee). Next, I spray the chain heavily with WD40, put the lid on the tin, and leave it for a few minutes. Drain off the amazingly dirty WD40, then fill the can with hot water - though not boiling. Let the chain soak in there for a few minutes to lift up the WD40 to the surface, then drain it off. Put the chain in another can, give it a light spray of WD40 (otherwise the surface of the chain may lift off and attach to the coffee tin, if it's metal) and put it to one side until next week.

* At the start of winter season, give the bike a good cleanup, and when it's dry, I use car wax to polish it up. This will have the same effect as WD40/Pam, but will last pretty much all season. Yes, it's messy, but it's a once a year thing.

* Chain cleaner does a great job of cleaning off rims and rim brakes. This is especially important in winter - if I don't clean off the rims and brake pads nightly I can feel the salt and dirt grinding off a layer of the rims the next morning! I also take the pads off once a week and use a sharp knife to pick out the bits of metal that invariably accumulate in there - I don't know if they're coming up off the road, or off the rim, but I always have at least one chunk in there...

* Save inner tubes that can't be repaired (blown valve core, completely shredded, whatever). The rubber can be cut up and used for shims (eg, for lights), covering chain stays to prevent chain slap, emergency bungee cords, rubber bands with non-standard width... The list goes on. The rubber also has the weird property that after it's been rinsed off and exposed to air for a while, it'll stick to itself - not quite self-adhesive, but sticky enough to give a really good grip.

* Try Continental brand inner tubes. They have a nut that screws onto the valve, so when you're pumping up the tube the valve doesn't try and pop under the rim. They also seem to hold air better than generic Chen Shin tubes. They're about $1.50 more than generic tubes at MEC.


steve said...

Glad you found them useful :-) I'm a bit of an anorak on the subject of bikes, I must admit, but at least it's harmless!

A few more to throw in to the mix:

* If you own your own home, you probably have a few off-cuts of wood kicking around from home repair/upgrading projects. Attach them to the wall (use a studfinder if you're attaching through giprock!), and then use nails of appropriate size to hang your tools off. Draw an outline of the tool with pencil so you know not only when something is missing, but what it is. The really anal retentive will nick the label maker from work^W^W^W^W^W^W label the outline with an appropriate tool so that missing tools can be exactly identified.

* Keep broken spokes. They're really useful for many odds and ends; not only for (say) fishing out the end off a quill stem that fell off down the stem, but also for random household jobs like cleaning out the accumulated hair from a bath sinkhole due to a long-haired daughter clogging it up. Just to pick a random possibility. They're also handy when you have a puncture in the rear wheel - use the spoke to lift the chain off the cogs instead of using your fingers.

* Speaking of spokes, it's worth buying two each of the spokes for the front wheel, drive side rear wheel and off-side rear wheel, and duct-taping them to the frame - the seat stay is usually a good choice. Don't tape them on in a bundle, tape them around the stay - that way you can slide one spoke out at a time. Don't rely on just one piece of duct tape, either - use at least two.

* If you have a really rusty part you want to rescue, you can use an electrolysis bath. It's basically a bucket (plastic for preference, non-metallic a must) filled with water and a dash of baking soda. You will need an electrode that is preferably pure iron or steel - if you're not careful you can produce chromium, which is on the toxic side. You will also need a two lengths of metal cable, preferably coated with different colours of plastic, and a wall wart or battery charger of some kind (a battery charger is easiest if you don't have a multimeter or experience using one, otherwise a wall wart usually has a heftier charge and will lift the rust more quickly). Connect the electrode to the positive terminal using the metal cable, and the item to be rust removed to the negative terminal. Put both items in the bath fairly close (1-2 cm) to each other, and plug the power in. If it's working right, you should see bubbles build up on the item and transfer over to the electrode. Leave it running for half an hour or so and the rust should convert back to iron. Turn off the power and take the item out, rinse it in clean water, dry it off, and immediately put on a thin film of grease (otherwise it'll rust pretty quickly). I used this method to rescue a really nice Nishiki I found in the garbage.

* You can do ghetto style wheel truing without buying a truing stand by taping bits of card to the stays by the rims to gauge what lateral truing needs doing. You can do radial truing by tying string across the stays to gauge the true.

In return for all these tips... I challenge you to come up with a decent tasting cocktail involving tawny port (my current poison of choice). I'll be waiting for those meds to finish... :-)

Michelle said...

a bit of a what?? I thought an anorak was a jacket! I just call myself a bike freak.

umm, water and electrical charge, I think I will leave that to you :)
Naw, I studied chemistry, I understand it, just never knew anyone who does it in their garage.

Oh the challenge, I LOVE a challenge - Keep watching

steve said...

"A bit of an anorak" is a phrase from the UK... Another version is "a bit of a trainspotter". I don't think there's anything quite so poetical this side of the pond. Geek, I suppose, is about as close as it gets.

I do all sorts of weird stuff in the basement. Since I haven't exploded anything yet (or, to be precise, exploded anything that (a) wasn't supposed to explode, or (b) wasn't noticed exploding by other people) my wife lets me get on with stuff without too much comment. She sometimes comes down, stares at me for a few minutes, then walks off shaking her head, though... :-)